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Charges upgraded to reckless homicide for Highland Park woman

Judy Rodriquez 13; Emily Elizalde 11 Nicole Alonso 12 Highwood joSept. 6 memorial march for Jaclyn Santos-Sacramen5 who died after

Judy Rodriquez, 13; Emily Elizalde, 11, and Nicole Alonso, 12, of Highwood, join a Sept. 6 memorial march for Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento, 5, who died after a car struck her on Labor Day in Highland Park. | Brian O’Mahoney~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 15, 2012 9:26AM



Prosecutors on Wednesday hit a Highland Park woman with upgraded charges in the crash that killed a 5-year-old girl walking with her family on Labor Day in the north suburb.

Carly Rousso, 18, was charged with reckless homicide and driving under the influence of a chemical commonly used in “huffing” to get high.

Rousso had been charged only with DUI after her Lexus veered across traffic, jumped a curb and plowed into the family, killing Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento, police said.

The initial charges drew criticism from some who argued that Rousso was getting off easy.

But police and prosecutors said State Police Crime Lab tests came back, after an expedited request, and the tests indicated that the compound difluoroethane was in her bloodstream. The chemical is one of a number of compounds used when inhaling chemicals in huffing, prosecutors said.

Authorities also said they found a commercial cleaning product in Rousso’s car that was also tested by the crime lab. That analysis also detected difluoroethane.

Rousso, out on bond on the DUI charge, turned herself in Wednesday. She was charged with reckless homicide and four counts of aggravated driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound. Her bond was increased from $50,000 to $500,000.

Attorney Robert Baizer, who is representing Jaclyn’s family, said the wait for the crime lab results that led to the upgraded charges was “entirely normal.”

He also reacted to news that Rousso was severely bitten in a vicious pit-bull attack three years ago.

Her parents filed a lawsuit against neighbors after the attack. That suit was settled in November for $200,000, according to an attorney in the case.

Baizer, who attended Jac­lyn’s funeral Tuesday, said Rousso’s background did not explain away the crash.

“I watched her father lean over and kiss his little girl before they closed the coffin,” he said. “This is hardly the time to be garnering sympathy for Rousso. In no way did anything in her background justify or explain what she did.”

Authorities said crash data information was downloaded from the Lexus coupe for analysis by the county’s Major Crash Assistance Team, which also examined the car and reconstructed the events leading to Jaclyn’s death.

Rousso was driving east on Central Avenue when she veered across multiple lanes of traffic and left the road, driving onto a sidewalk and hitting Jaclyn, her mother and two brothers, police said.

Last week, hundreds of supporters carrying white balloons filled Highland Park’s streets during a march to the site of the crash.

At the time, some of the marchers argued that justice was not being done based on the lesser charges Rousso faced then.

Contributing: Kim Janssen



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